Everyone gets an e-card from their bank on Christmas or on their birthday. If you happen to go to a store where you’re a member, you even get a complimentary chocolate bar. No matter how old you get, these gestures do tend to gladden the heart. It can be a kick to have people you’re not close to greet you on your birthday; it can make you feel like a celebrity.

As employer, you are closer to your employees then anyone in the outside world. It’s important to come in with a real special gesture — not only for birthdays or on Christmas but every time that they go beyond the call of duty to make your business function better. What you do doesn’t necessarily need to cost a lot. It does need to be creative, though. It’s the creativity that gives your gesture power and effectiveness.

Give them vouchers for time off

It can be especially difficult in today’s high-pressure workplace environment to find any time to goof off. One of the nicest and lowest-cost ways to truly show an employee that you appreciate what they do is to tell them out of the blue to get out there and have some fun, simply because they deserve it. This little gift idea works best when it comes as a spur-of-the-moment call. A move like this can also work very well as a way to improve the image of the business overall as a cool place to work at.

Have you considered a heartfelt thank you?

Here’s why a thank you would be far more effective than praise — employees look up to the managers as a level above them. Praise for work well done is only expected. An expression of thanks, though, brings the boss to the level of the employee. It often appears as unexpected; it can make an employee choke up. A simple heartfelt public thank you can be a wonderful thing.

Of course, thank yous are easy to say, and people tend to doubt their sincerity. Putting them out with a little gift can make them look much better. They don’t even have to be expensive. Ornament Shop, leading online gift outlet, for instance, stocks a number of touching gifts that go very well with corporate thank you notes. It’s even possible to order custom gifts with the corporate logo on them.

Make an unexpected gesture

Every fast food restaurant has a star board that employees get on from time to time. If you need to recognize an employee for a contribution made, you need to do better; it could be an idea to have a professional content writer look over the overachieving employee’s record or even what they do outside of work, and come up with something original to put in the company blog or newsletter.

Show your appreciation in a way your employee’s family can see

Everyone wants their family to know how good they are what they do. Yet, given the specialized nature of many kinds of corporate work it can be difficult to show one’s family how valuable one’s work is. One way to show appreciation to employees is to do something that can show their whole family how well appreciated they are — contract with a car wash business to send someone over to their home to clean their car each Sunday; send someone around to grocery shop for them. Best of all, send them coupons for the whole family for an expensive, white tablecloth restaurant experience. This is the kind of gesture that can truly touch.

Melanie Berry combines working and raising a family with her passion for crafts and gift ideas. She loves to share her ideas online and is a frequent contributor for a variety of relevant websites.